Off the record

Quote martial

With the war of words between the two rival camps in Bihar getting murkier by the day, the Election Commission has expressed its concern over the kind of language being used by party leaders during campaigning. In a subtle message, it has advised every leader to exercise restraint while assailing opponents.

The ‘war’ took a turn for worse, recently, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while canvassing in Bihar, used the term ‘shaitan’ (devil) for RJD chief Lalu Prasad. An offended Lalu retorted and asked Modi to publicly apologise for his uncharitable remarks.

When Modi refused to do so, Lalu said, “The kind of language this PM uses shows ‘Ee PM banne ke layak hee nahin tha’ (Modi did not deserve to be PM). If he calls me shaitan, then he is himself ‘Brahma Pishach’ (super demon).” The EC is now examining the speech of warring leaders to find out whether it violated the model code of conduct.
Abhay Kumar, Patna

Pink slip scare

Ever since a letter from Nripendra Mishra, principal secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu – reminding him about his ministry’s failure to achieve quarterly targets in planned expenditure – surfaced in the media, speculation is rife over whether a reshuffle of ministers is imminent.

The talk is that Modi may drop some of them after the Bihar polls to refurbish the ima-ge of his government. Those in charge of ministries that have failed to live up to Modi’s performance criteria may be sho-wn the door or shifted to other departments. Prabhu was handpicked by Modi but delays in the execution of public-private partnerships have left the PMO “exasperated.” Prabhu, who is not in the pink of health, is, however, unfazed by such reports and says he is at work.
Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi

Image change

Ahead of the Tamil Nadu elections next year, DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s son and heir-apparent M K Stalin’s bid to shed the party’s anti-Hindu image has riled senior party leaders who feel that he is “taking things too far” by his frequent visits to temples. Disagreeing with them, Stalin sees no contradiction in the DMK’s commitment to Periyar’s rationalist principles and anti-Hindu god campaign, and softening up to religious sentiments of AIADMK supporters.

Taking a cue from his father who has penned a TV serial in praise of Vaishnava saint Ramanujacharya, Stalin has justified his recent visit to the fam-ous Tirukoshtiyur temple, saying though he was a rationalist, he prayed in the temple as over 90 per cent of partymen were Hindus! Last year, when Stalin had greeted people on Vinayaka Chathurthi through a Facebook post, Karunanidhi did not approve of it and Stalin was quick to disown the post. This time, however, there is silence from the father who is keen that the AIADMK is not allowed to play the religious card.
SI, New Delhi

Study leave

Every time you spoke to a Union minister on a Gujarat visit, you always hear that he/ she is here as a student, to keenly learn nuances of the Gujarat model and replicate it nationally. At least, one minister would come calling every fortnight, if not every week, to enlighten themselves of Modi sarkaar’s achievements. However, the Patidar quota stir and a question by a scribe to one of the ministers during his Guja-rat study tour to seems to have put brakes on their education.

“If Gujarat is the most developed, then why has the state’s most powerful community – the Patels – taken to the streets alleging no development?” the scribe asked Mr Minister, who mumbled inaudibly, before dubbing it as a ‘local issue’! It’s been over 50 days and no Modi minister seems to be visiting Gujarat on a study tour now.
Sunil Raghu, Ahmedabad

Internal storm

The recent manhandling of BJP legislator Ghanshyam Tiwari has revived the opponents of chief minister Vasundhara Raje in Rajasthan. Several leaders, including state party vice-president Om Mathur, have met Tiwari to extend their support to him. Sources revealed Tiwari will soon meet PM Modi in this regard. However, the BJP leadership is of the view that Tiwari was completely sidelined in the BJP regime and none of the leaders close to Ra-je will do such an indecent act.

According to the BJP leaders of Raje camp, it’s a political strategy by Tiwari to create problems for state leadership and ensure his revival. After the incident, Tiwari has announced a rally across Rajasthan for a year to educate people about the ideology of BJP. The Raje camp feels that through the rally, Tiwari wishes to unite opponents of Raje across the state and to establish himself as the Brahmin leader of Rajasthan.  
Abhishek Gaur, Jaipur

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